Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kids are growing up - Ellia's 5 months old!

Twinkies! Annika was so excited to match Ellia.

Ellia was pretty stoked to go for a ride in the stroller like a big girl.

Annika has gotten really fast on the tricycle....she loves to go on rides around the neighborhood.

She had to stop and show me a worm she found.

Most of the time Ellia just laughs and vigorously bounces in her jumper....but she just tuckered out.

Easter Sunday - getting a decent picture was more than difficult.

Ellia loves swinging in the back yard!

Little Cutie Pie!

Sweet sisters.

5 months old today! Such a big girl! She weighs 16 lb 4 oz and is 27" long.
She can roll from her back to tummy, but not vice versa. She has a great little laugh and loves to shriek at the top of her lungs for no reason. She has started grabbing everything, which makes holding her on your lap while eating a real hazard. My entire plate almost ended up on the floor the other day. And anything she gets her hands on goes straight to her mouth.
4/22/10


Loves to grab those cute toes.
4/22/10

Happy Girl!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Squares

Be still, my beating heart. Two of my very favorite things combined into one decadent dessert -chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake! Another winner from foodgawker.com - this one came from here. I made it for our small group this past weekend and it was declared fabulous by everyone except the one guy who hates cheesecake. (Even HE said the flavor was good....he just has an aversion to cream cheese.)
Personally, I just couldn't get enough of them, which is why I sent most of the leftovers home with people.
And one of the best parts......you don't have to worry about the cheesecake cracking!
I doubled this recipe and made it in a 13 x 9" pan. It worked out great, except I discovered you really don't need to double the chocolate topping. I didn't, in fact, and still had leftover chocolate, so I would suggest using a bit less if you make this as written.

Recipe:
Crust:
1 & 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
5 T. butter, melted
2/3 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cookie Dough:
5 T. butter, room temp.
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
3 T. sugar
1/4 t. coarse salt
1 ts. vanilla extract
3/4 c. flour
1 c. chocolate chips

Cheesecake Filling:
10 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract

Topping:
1/3 c. chocolate chips
1 t. shortening

Preheat oven to 325°.

For the crust:
Line an 8 x 8 pan with foil and grease it well.
Crush graham crackers into crumbs to make 1 & 1/2 cups. Add to butter and stir until crumbs are moistened. Stir in chocolate chips.
Press crust mixture into bottom of pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

For cookie dough:
Using mixer and the paddle attachment, mix butter, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract at medium speed until smooth. Adjust mixer speed to low and add flour. Mix just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside.

For cheesecake:
Using mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract, beating just until blended.
Pour batter into cooled, baked crust. Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls over the top of the filling. The dough is crumbly and you'll have to squeeze/roll it if you want balls. I put in as many dough balls as I could, then just crumbled the rest over the top. It seems like a ton of cookie dough, but it is just so good, so go ahead and use it!
Bake about 30 minutes, or until set. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Place in the refrigerator to chill several hours.

For the topping:
Combine the chocolate chips and shortening and melt in the microwave at 30 second intervals at 50% power. Stir after each interval; repeat until melted.

Drizzle over the bars before serving. Note: Bars will look better if you cut before drizzling - I found that if you drizzle over the whole thing, chill, then cut, the topping breaks and doesn't stay where it belongs very well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sisters

Ellia at 4 months

Marissa (with Corban) at 4.5 months.
See a resemblance???

Resurrection Rolls

These have become an Easter breakfast tradition for us. I found the recipe on Allrecipes two years ago and thought they were amazing....last year I was too sick with pregnancy to make them, but this year I made them again. Goodness, they are so delicious!

The marshmallow melts inside the roll creating a juicy sauce. It's like an inside out cinnamon roll.
They're really so good that I would love to have them often, but I want them to be special on Resurrection Sunday, so I'll try to have self-control and save them for once a year.

They are easy to make with kids and they invite the opportunity to explain about the Resurrection because the disappearing marshmallow is supposed to represent Jesus being risen.

Here's a breakdown of the symbolism:

Large Marshmallows - body of Jesus
Melted Butter - oils of embalming
Cinnamon & Sugar Mix- spices used to anoint the body.
Crescent Roll - the wrapping of Jesus’ body or the tomb.
Oven – the tomb
Cavity in bun – the empty tomb or the empty cloths


Recipe: (makes 8 - I doubled for our family so we each could have at least 2!)

1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent rolls
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
8 large marshmallows
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375°.
Separate rolls into eight triangles. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Dip each marshmallow into butter, roll in cinnamon-sugar and place on a triangle. Pinch dough around marshmallow, sealing all edges. Make sure to seal well or all the marshmallow will escape. For Real.

Dip tops of dough into remaining butter and cinnamon-sugar. Place with sugar side up in greased muffin cups. It helps to use jumbo muffin tins so that the juice doesn't overflow.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes. Eat warm.

Rolling up the marshmallow

If the cinnamon/sugar mixture starts getting clumpy from the butter, you may find it easier to just sprinkle it on the marshmallows.
(Corban took these last 2 photos - he was very proud of himself!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Green Bean Casserole

Green bean casserole. Who doesn't love this stuff? Oh yeah, my kids. They'd rather eat green beans plain out of the can. That's just weird.
Despite the fact that I do not like mushrooms, I have always liked cream of mushroom soup in this recipe. And this time, I stepped it up a notch thanks to inspiration from my blogger friend SnoWhite and made my own. You can always use the canned stuff, it is convenient and all....but this is SO much healthier and tastier. You gotta try it.

Cream of Mushroom Soup Recipe
(makes equivilant of 1 can)

4 oz fresh mushrooms (may used canned as well, just drain the can)
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 T. oil or butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1 T. cornstarch
salt and pepper, to taste

Chop mushrooms to desired size - I diced them very small - but you can leave whole if you want. In a saucepan, saute onions with mushrooms in 1 T. oil or butter until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add chicken broth and heat to boiling. Mix 1/2 c milk with cornstarch until well mixed, and add to the boiling mixture, stirring frequently until thick (mine took several minutes). Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Green Bean Casserole Recipe (makes one 9" pie-pan full, double it for a 13 x 9"pan)

2 (14.5 oz) cans green beans, well drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or recipe above)
1/2 cup milk (if you made the soup, reduce to 1/4 cup or less)
1 t. worcestershire sauce
pepper, to taste
3 oz. french fried onions

Preheat oven to 350°.
Combine green beans, soup, milk, worcestershire sauce, and pepper in a large bowl. Spoon into a greased 9" (square or circle) baking dish.
Bake for 20 minutes. Top with french fried onions and return to oven for another 10 minutes or until onions are lightly browned.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Apple Crisp

A few weeks ago, one of our friends made an apple crisp for our small group. I tasted it and thought it was awesome - but immediately thought it was too bad Grant wouldn't like it, because he rarely even tries desserts without chocolate. Little did I know.

He ate one helping and without hesitation went back for a second, even larger helping.

He not only liked it, he wouldn't stop raving about it.

Unfortunately for him, he was travelling the next week when I decided to use up some apples in the fridge and make an apple crisp for a friend who just had a baby....with an extra pan for us.
He missed out on the whole thing. Sorry Honey!

I was unable to get a hold of the friend who made the crisp for the recipe - so I kind of made up my own, based on what I remembered her saying she used. Here's what I did.

Recipe:

8 cups (about 9-10 medium) cored, peeled, and sliced cooking apples
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup flour
1-1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups oats (I used regular, quick oats would be fine as well)
1 cup butter, melted
Chopped walnuts (optional)
Whipped topping, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)

Spread apple slices in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice. (Skip lemon juice if apples are extremely tart.)

Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and oats. Add melted butter and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over apples. Top with nuts if desired.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and apples are softened.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sloppy Joes

I have never made sloppy joes from a can. I thought about it once, but when I read the ingredient list, there was no question that the answer was a resounding "No way." I hesitated to even try making them from scratch, since Grant had said he didn't care for them much anyways, but then I just took the plunge and tried this recipe from Allrecipes.
With a couple of modifications, it became an instant hit with my family, except for Corban (6.5), who complains that they're - you guessed it - too sloppy.

Recipe:

1 pound ground turkey or lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3 teaspoons brown sugar
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

1.In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground turkey, onion, and green pepper; drain off liquids.
2.Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve on buns of your choice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hashbrown Casserole

I made this for my MOPS group brunch last week and made an extra one for my family for dinner (to serve alongside sloppy joes). A comfort food to the max, it was very popular with the ladies and my family alike. How could you go wrong with potatoes, butter, and cheese anyways? I mean, really.
I used my homemade cream of chicken soup, but you could certainly use store bought if you wish. It would also be delicious with crumbled cooked bacon or ham added.

Update: I have also made this with cream of mushroom soup with equally delicious results....and I have decreased the butter to 4-5 Tablespoons and couldn't even tell a difference.  


Recipe:

1 (2 pound) package frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1.Preheat oven to 350°. Spray one 9x13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2.In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, butter, salt, pepper, onions, soup and cheese. Gently mix and pour into prepared pan or dish. Bake uncovered for 35 minutes. It may look overly greasy, but never fear! Once it cools a few minutes, all that deliciousness will somehow sink into the potatoes and they will look and taste fabulous!

Note: If you use "southern style" hashbrowns (as I did) instead of shredded, you may need an additional 5-10 minutes baking time.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Banana Muffins (One bowl)

I modified this recipe from one here after trying to find a new banana muffin recipe on foodgawker.com. (Have I told you how much I love that website??)

I thought these were top notch. They were very easy to whip together and just had a wonderful texture and flavor. The kids adored them and wouldn't stop eating them. I doubled the batch because I had a bunch of very ripe bananas - but this is the single version. I think you should get 12 muffins out of it.

I substituted coconut oil for half of the originally called for butter - you can certainly just use all butter if you so desire. I don't think I've mentioned on here before - but I bought a gallon jug of coconut oil from Mountain Rose Herbs at the beginning of March. I've been adding it into recipes all over the place, like pancakes, smoothies, oatmeal, even sauteing chicken in it. It has tremendous health benefits, as you can read about here.


Recipe:

2 large ripe bananas, peeled
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
chopped walnuts (optional)
chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 12 muffins tins with muffin/cupcake liners or grease tins.
Put the bananas in a large, microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Add the butter and coconut oil and microwave 20 seconds at a time until the butter is softened but not melted. (It is fine if a little bit of it melts).
Using a potato masher, mash the bananas, butter, and oil together until there isn't a lot of lumpiness left.
Thoroughly stir in the sugar, beaten egg, milk, vanilla extract, and salt.
Place a sieve over the bowl and fill it with the flour, baking power and baking soda. Sift the contents into the wet ingredients, trying to stir the sieve as you go to distribute the leaveners.
Fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Stop when they are just moistened.
Distribute the batter into the tins. Top with walnuts and/or chocolate chips if desired. Bake about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Birthday Dessert

I deliberated long and hard about what dessert I wanted for my birthday. It's a big decision, you know. Especially when you're trying to be healthy and not indulge in such things very often.
I ended up choosing this.

Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake. (Now I'm just waiting for the perfect occasion to make my second choice, a Chocolate Overdose Cake. Doesn't that look divine???)

I hadn't had it in over two years, which is far too long and it was every bit as good as I remembered. I suppose we should have cut it into pieces and frozen them to spread it out...but no, Grant and I ate it this entire week after the kids went to bed.
Not our smartest decision.....but boy, was it good!



It Tastes Like What??

What is it with kids and eating boogers? Seriously!

We were in the car driving today and Annika (2.5) piped up,

"Mommy, I not eating a boogie".

Me: "Good! We don't eat boogies! That's gross!"

Marissa (4.5): "Why?"

Me: "Because they taste nasty and it's just not a good thing to do!"

Marissa: "No they don't. I think they're good."

Me: "Why, what do your boogies taste like?"

Marissa: "M & M's."

Well, how do you argue with that? If my boogies tasted like M&M's, I'd be eating them too. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Photo impossible

Ever try to take a family photo using a tripod and self-timer and actually have success in getting everyone looking the same direction simultaneously?

Yeah, us neither.

Well, we tried.

This was on my birthday a few days ago - no, I don't mind you asking, I turned 29......for the fourth time, if you must know (aka 32) - and we went to a nearby park for some pictures and a nice walk.

We got a fairly decent photo of the three older kids......but again, getting good expressions from them all at once is just impossible. I need some good photo-editing software.
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